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In this era of technology, the right use of social media can help us grow our businesses, have an active online presence and be part of like-minded interest groups or communities. But this vibrant online space is also a hub of numerous social media scams.

These scammers prey on our trust and excitement, using clever tactics to steal money, personal information, or even hijack our accounts.

Here’s a look at the top 5 social media scams you should be aware of, along with safety tips to protect yourself:

1. Hacked Accounts

A hacked account is a digital creator’s worst nightmare. Especially if you have a large interactive following.

Accounts can get hacked cause of various reasons.

Some of the common reasons are weak passwords, using public WiFi, falling victim to phishing attacks, or through shoulder surfing. Sometimes accounts can also get hacked through online data breaches.

  • Warning Signs: Avoid interacting with deceptive emails or messages that trick you into revealing your login credentials. Sometimes hackers impersonate as a friend, authority figure, or a customer service representative and try to manipulate you into giving away your login information.
  • Safety Tips: Use strong and unique passwords, consider using a password manager. Never enter sensitive data in public spaces like cafes, restaurants, etc. Be vigilant and alert of people around you.

As discussed above phishing is the most common means by which scammers can get access to your private data.

According to the 2024 report by Palo Alto Networks, phishing constituted 17% of online exploitation incidents in 2023.

A chart showing the top four unethical tactics in digital space used in 2023. Source: Palo Alto

Whether it’s your friend’s post offering a free vacation or a celebrity endorsing a new investment opportunity, they are classic examples of phishing scams.

Scammers create fake posts or messages that look legitimate, often imitating trusted brands or people you know.

  • Warning Signs: Look out for grammatical errors, misspelt names, and a sense of urgency. Clicking the link might lead to a fake login page designed to steal your credentials.
  • Safety Tips: Never click on suspicious links, even if they come from a friend. Verify information directly with the supposed source or through a trusted website.

3. Impersonator Accounts

Scammers might create fake social media profiles pretending to be someone you know or trust – a friend, family member, a brand, or even a celebrity. They might use stolen photos and information to appear convincing.

  • Warning Signs: New accounts with limited friends, especially if they try to connect quickly or ask for personal details. Verified accounts will usually have a blue checkmark next to the username.
  • Safety Tips: Don’t accept friend requests from unknown accounts. Be wary of messages that seem out of character for the person they’re impersonating. Look at their follower count and bio details. Fake accounts usually have fishy bios asking for DMs. If unsure, contact the real person through a trusted channel.

Sometimes, these impersonator accounts can even go a step further in their deception by reporting the legitimate account holder for impersonation. How unfair, right?

These impersonators can also post something offensive or silly just to gain attention that could potentially harm the reputation of the real person.

For instance, both Chris Pratt and Lebron James have faced situations where fake accounts misused their names to share inappropriate or silly content.

This can result in the original/real account getting disabled. This practice is mostly adopted by bogus competitors.

An example of an original business account and its impersonator. Source: Instagram

4. Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

Social media is full of promises of easy money. These could be investment opportunities with guaranteed high returns, work-from-home schemes with minimal effort, or pyramid schemes disguised as legitimate businesses.

The Federal Trade Commission report found that in the first half of 2023, 53% of financial losses were due to fake investment schemes.

  • Warning Signs: Promises of unrealistic returns, complex investment plans you don’t understand, and pressure to act quickly. Legitimate investment opportunities require research and involve some risk.
  • Safety Tips: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research before investing anything. Never share your financial information on social media.

5. Fake Products and Giveaways

Social media is a popular platform for online shopping. But on the flip side, a lot of financial exploitation also takes place by its misuse.

According to the 2023 Federal Trade Commission report, 44% of fraud complaints related to social media involved online buying or selling of products.

Scammers create fake profiles or online stores that advertise products at unbelievably low prices. They might even steal real product photos from legitimate businesses.

Moreover, as everyone loves a good giveaway. Scammers exploit this by creating fake contests or promotions, often promising expensive gadgets or luxury vacations. They might ask you to share the post, tag friends, or complete a survey to enter.

  • Warning Signs: Unrealistic discounts, blurry or generic product photos. Accounts with a low follower count suddenly run a big giveaway. Pages that have a lot of stock images. The mechanics of the giveaway might be unclear or require following suspicious accounts and completing lengthy surveys.
  • Safety Tips: Check the legitimacy of the giveaway by looking at the brand’s official social media pages. Only buy from reputable sellers. Look for reviews and check the seller’s website for secure payment options. Check if the comments have been disabled. Scammers disable comments to restrict feedback from customers they have duped.
An example of an Instagram page selling fake merchandise. Source: Instagram

Conclusion

Social media is a valuable tool to expand your reach and create a devoted following. At the same time, it can be tricky to navigate through it and one might fall into traps.

By staying vigilant and practicing safe habits, you can enjoy its benefits without falling prey to such social media scams.

But in an unfortunate incident you lose access to your account cause of hacking or due to a false report by an impersonator, Digital Nod offers a trusted, professional and complete service to help you recover your hacked account and reclaim the legitimacy of your account.

All we need from you are some basic details and a couple of days, and voila! Your account is safely back to you. In any case, you want to know more, get in touch with us today!


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